It was February 12, 2006, in Orlando, Florida. The main event of Against All Odds was drawing to a close. Standing in the center of the ring was Christian Cage and his best friend Rhino as they celebrated Cage’s NWA World Heavyweight Championship win. It was the first of his career.
Cage came in just three months earlier at the 2005 Genesis event, debuting just prior to the main event and rejecting an invite into Team Canada. He came into IMPACT to be the new face of the promotion and to show the world he could carry a company.
Cage had a good run in the-then-named TNA. He won the NWA World Championship on two occasions but quickly took a back seat to Sting and Kurt Angle, two more recently singed talent. Prior to taking the belt off of Cage and putting it on Sting, then Angle, Cage himself came into the promotion in a time of upheaval at the top in TNA.
AJ Styles ended Jeff Jarrett’s year-long reign as NWA World Champion at the Hard Justice event and held the belt for just one month. Raven then beat Sean Waltman, Abyss, Monty Brown and the then champion AJ Styles one month later at Slammiversary. Raven would hold that belt until the fall, when he would be beat by Jeff Jarrett just before TNA’s debut on Spike TV.
Jarrett would only the belt for a matter of weeks, as he was supposed to face Kevin Nash at the first ever Bound For Glory. Nash couldn’t make it, and instead Rhino took his place and after winning two matches heading into the main event, gored and beat Jarrett for the belt.
Rhino would hold it for just a few days before Jarrett won it back. Then just several months later, Jarrett lost the belt to Christian Cage. Cage had beaten Monty Brown at Turning Point in 2005 to win the Number One Contender’s match, to qualify for the world title. Cage leapt over Brown, whom himself had beaten Jeff Hardy to win the Number One contendership just one month earlier.
Needless to say, the whole “Jarrett’s evil reign” was #1) never really a thing and #2) would of been long dead at this point. In fact, it was this constant title swapping that leads me to this theory; TNA was having too much turnover at the top.
Raven would’ve made the right man for the job heading into Bound for Glory, but the rumor always said that Spike TV demanded that TNA use Jeff Jarrett as World Champion and utilize other top stars of yesteryear. So Raven, Monty Brown and even AJ Styles weren’t going to go into Spike TV as champion.
So it makes all the sense in the world that TNA would want to use a top name to get eyes on. Now yes, Scott Steiner at the time was 43 and coming off of a terrible run in the WWE. Steiner was suffering from Drop Foot, a symptom of nerve damage that Steiner was working through at the time. Due to this, Steiner never got his barrings in the WWE. He’d eventually undergo surgery and be out for nearly a year after having the situation addressed.
When he came back into TNA, many thought he was done but after a feud with Samoa Joe, Sting, and having a bounty of other matches, he proved his doubters wrong. He’d only be in TNA for five months to start, before returning at Against All Odds 2007 as Christian Cage’s corner man against Kurt Angle. From there Steiner would have a career revival; having top feuds with Kurt Angle, Samoa Joe (again), The Dudley’s, AJ Styles and more. He’d also survive a life-threatening in-ring injury just days before Slammiversary 2007.
Historically speaking it’s Steiner and not Cage that left a lasting imprint in the minds of many. It goes beyond just the now internet-famous meme, ‘Steiner Math’. It involves his reclamation of his career, becoming a reliable tag team partner to his brother, teaming up with his former WCW rival Booker T, taking Crimosn under his belt and even winning gold not just with Booker but with Eli Drake as well.
Christian had two title wins but his moments were few and far between. Steiner had a longer and arguably more successful career in the company. He had more top matches, and did more with less. It’s all these reasons and probably more that lead me to claim without any doubt that Steiner, not Cage, should’ve been NWA World Champion in 2006.
You have Steiner defeat Jarrett for the belt as a surprise mystery opponent at Against All Odds. There’s nothing prohibiting Steiner from debuting a month earlier, so do that. Have Steiner show up, defeat Jeff Jarrett and win the NWA World Championship. Now, some things have to change; like who faces who but that’s ok.
You would ideally keep the belt on Steiner until August. Now, I hate rematches in pro wrestling. It’s such an outdated and unnecessary concept 99% of the time. yet I’ll need a rematch here to make this idea work. At the real Hard Justice Sting fought and got screwed out of the NWA World Title at the Hard Justice event in 2006. Christian Cage turned on Sting, hitting him with Jarrett’s guitar, allowing the then-champ Jarrett to get the win.
There was no comeuppance for Sting against Cage. Ever. Instead of doing that shit idea, have Steiner face Jarrett at Hard Justice and have Samoa Joe then cost Steiner the match. This would alter the Slammiversary and Bound for Glory. Seeing as Steiner would just be randomly dropped from TNA television in August, I have to believe they could fit in six-nine more dates for him, to get Steiner to October.
Then things go similar to how they really went. Have Sting demand a title shot against Jarrett, with Jarrett saying he won’t face Sting ever – unless Sting puts up his career to face Jarrett. Boom, Bound For Glory is set.
Prior to that however, I’d have the best workers possible work with Steiner, all without interrupting the flow of the companies story lines that went down for real. I’d start with a Ron Killings at Destination X. Have Ron win some type of battle royal, while you build up Christian Cage by having him join Team Canada.
At LockDown you can still do Abyss for the title, just make sure it’s a heavily gimmicked hardcore match. Then rolling into Sacrifice we’d have Steiner probably face off with Monty Brown or Raven. Though, just for the giggles, Buff Bagwell would be involved as well. Bagwell was brought in with Lex Luger and Rick Steiner as possible options for Sting’s partner at Sacrifice, with Samoa Joe eventually taking the spot. Bagwell and Steiner have history and Bagwell was already tapped for an appearance; it just makes sense. Bagwell and Brown in this scenario would actually form a duo with the sole purpose of destroying Steiner, but Steiner would actually lock both Buff and Brown into a Steiner Recliner for the win.
At Slammiversary things would go a bit different. Instead of the King of the Mountain match being for the title, it’s now for a title shot. It’d be Jeff Jarrett, Sting, Abyss, Ron Killings and Monty Brown vying for the title shot. The title meanwhile will be defended against Christian Cage, the new captain of Team Canada. It’s at this point that friction is brewing with Petey Williams, who was the former Team Captain of Team Canada.
Cage and Steiner should have an epic, because Cage will just bump and sell for 20 minutes. D’Amore and Cage could try and cheat to win, get Steiner down for the count, only for Petey to cost Cage the title and lose in the Recliner. A triple threat involving Petey could be the Victory Road main event, or a tag match of sorts where Rhino, Steiner, Sting, Samoa Joe and Ron Killings take on Team Canada’s Christian Cage, Petey Williams, Bobby Roode, Eric Young and A-1.
My only hesitation with the five-on-five is the fact that Sting, AJ Styles, Ron Killings and Rhino woudl be booked to face Christian Cage, Bobby Roode, A-1 and Eric Young at Lockdown in this purposed scenario, replacing Planet Jarrett. We could also add Jeff Jarrett to diversify the lineups, though he wasn’t on Victory Road 2006 to begin with so why bother?
Steiner would win regardless of what match he was in at the July event, entering Hard Justice where he’d lose the belt to Jarrett. Rhino and Cage would ignite their feud at this time as well, as Rhino wants Cage to leave Team Canada. As Steiner loses his title because of Joe’s interference, they’re booked for Bound for Glory. The angle is simple, Joe was demanding title shots for Steiner, and when it became clear Steiner was “ducking” Joe, Joe took it into his own hands to get Steiner’s attention.
Bound for Glory looks a bit different but mostly the same.
NWA World Championship (Sting retires if he loses) w/Kurt Angle
Sting vs. Jeff Jarrett(c)
NWA World Tag Team Championships – Cage Match
LAX vs. Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles (c)
Streak vs. Freak
Samoa Joe vs. Scott Steiner
8 Mile Street Fight
Christian Cage vs. Rhino
TNA X-Division Championship
Chris Sabin vs. Low Ki (c)
Monster’s Ball Match w/ Jake Roberts as Special Guest Referee
Raven vs. Abyss vs. Brother Runt vs. Bobby Roode
Team 3D vs. The Franchised Naturals vs. The James Gang vs. America’s Most Wanted
Kevin Nash’s Open Invitational Gauntlet Battle Royal for Bound for Glory.
The only differences made that you can’t see would involve Team Canada’s Petey Williams, A-1, Johnny Divine and Eric Young competing in the X-Division Gauntlet as members of Team Canada and Petey winning. Lance Hoyt would also be in it, jumping the total from 16 to 18. Bobby Roode got put into the Monsters Ball match due to Christian demanding someone from Team Canada step up. As Roode’s the brawler of the team, this fit makes sense story-wise. This match would also return Monsters Ball to the gimmick of “locking” people away in a dark room for 24 hours.
Petey Williams wins the gauntlet, followed by The Naturals winning the tag team four corners match (which would be elimination) by defeating all three teams themselves by pinfall. Bobby Roode would defeat Runt, setting up a Raven/Roode feud. Sabin still defeats Low Ki. Christian Cage would fall to Rhino due to Petey. Samoa Joe would make Steiner tap (or do the snap-suplex finish again from the original Slammiversary if you have to.) LAX still goes over on Styles/Daniels and of course Sting beats Jarrett. This time clean with no help from anyone. Angle calls it fair and Sting and Angle have a brief stare down following the match; hinting at the future.
Coming out of this you avoid doing Angle and Samoa Joe for several weeks if not months. Hot-shotting into the angle was a mistake. Christian would delay the Petey stuff, as he would face off with and defeat Sting at Genesis in similar manner to how Abyss won the title. The ref would catch Petey trying to help Sting win, and would disqualify Sting and award the belt to Cage. Cage would then carry the belt through May of the next year, when the NWA would split from TNA.
Steiner would come back as a full blown heel in 2007. With Joe and Angle about to agree to terms for their huge showdown, Steiner would attack Joe. The two would face off at Lockdown in a revenge match. Sting would feud with Cage for sometime, before feuding with Abyss as he actually did. Angle would still be the first TNA World Champion. It’s here that we finally do Joe/Angle One. Joe and Angle both get picked to challenge for the World Title at Slammiversary, again relegating the King of the Mountain to a title shot, not the title.
Hopefully in doing Steiner as champion and Cage as a Team Canada heel, you avoid many of the pitfalls you fell into after Vince Russo came into power as a booker. Plus, the moments that Steiner creates as Champion, as well as the elevation that Joe would have feuding with Steiner, not too mention the inevitable match where Steiner and Angle would throw down later in the summer for the World Title would be an epic. This of course after Steiner’s return from his nasty throat injury.
What do you think, is Steiner replacing Cage the right call? Let us know on Twitter, @NerdCorp